Saturday, December 02, 2006


I continue to have concerns about the temporary satellite library locations proposed when the library closes for construction. I do not feel that the proposed locations are adequate. The proposed plan calls for 70% of the library books to be placed in storage for 2 years. The satellite library locations that have been proposed so far at Town Hall, the Multipurpose Building/Veteran park and at the Community Center are very small spaces.
A few weeks ago a good suggestion was made to place a trailer at the Greenburgh Nature Center. The town needs a temporary location on E Hartsdale Ave.
Another suggestion that I discussed with some residents today was to ask the schools if the library could use existing school libraries for temporary satellite library locations after school hours. The town would staff the school library (which could become a children's library) with a town paid librarian. If the school library has extra space some of the books that we were going to place in storage could be offered to the schools while construction is happening.
What are your thoughts? The purpose of this blog is to exchange ideas and to try to think of constructive ways to make our town a better place. Having a functional library during the 2 year construction is of great importance.


Anonymous said...

The residents of Greenburgh deserve to have a library that actually is a library. This suggestion should be explored.

Anonymous said...

This raises many issues, including security. Schools have every right to require any non-student, non-teacher to sign in; libraries should have open access. I think we need to think abou tthis lon and hard.

Anonymous said...

It's a nice idea in concept. From a building security perspective, though, it can't be done in any of the school buildings. Even if it could be, the extra security staffing and configurations required would be cost-prohibitive. The nature center, though, is certainly feasible.

Anonymous said...

Don't most schools open their doors to the community at times? For example, Edgemont High School has boy scout eagle awards ceremonies. In the past I have attended shows put on by non profit groups (not school groups) at the high school. The town could pay for extra security. This is cheaper than what the town was going to pay for Frank's.

Anonymous said...

I dont know how many schools have extra space available for a library -- as opposed to meeting rooms/auditoriums available on certain evenings.

also, again the security -- it is one thing to have meetings at schools in the evenings, particularly by a recognized group, it is another to have free access, and if only during non-school hours, not worth it

Anonymous said...

My child uses the school library after 3. the security issue is a real concern.

also -- many books may be inappropriate in a childrens library.

also -- if only some schools in the GPL area are able to participate, this could result in the town subsidizing school expenses.

Anonymous said...

I use GPL frequently, but I am nervous about any Town/School partnerships. Most people in Greenburgh are satisfied with their schools and there are not the constant issues the Town has. This is the second proposal (after the SAT camp) that would result in more Town/School overlap. I do not see it as a good idea.

When schools let other groups in, the schools have every right to monitor the groups. That would not be true with the library patrons. What would happen if their were unruly patrons? Lawsuits have resulted when homeless people have been asked to leave public libraries.

This also has the potential to be viewed as the town subsidizing school payrolls -- can we try to avoid legal problems before they happen.

Would the town be paying for a librarian during school hours? That is not right.

Would there be a seperate section for the GPl books, as oposed to the school books? How would adequate control be kept over books.

I would think that the school library would have to be open to all WLS members.

Anonymous said...

I think the plan for the library should be rethough. I would like to know -- will the old town hall eventually be demolished or renovated to eliminate the mold/asbestos problems? If yes, lets do that first, and then either start construction or put trailers there. Maybe we need to redo the plan, but using the schools is not a good idea.

Childrens libraries have high usage, special programs during school hours -- to accomodate pre school children. The school program would result in the sateillite childrens library not being usable during those hours.

Anonymous said...

Dont all school employees have to be finger printed and checked with the state? Would that apply to all personnel working in the school, including delivery people etc. There are reasons for these requirements.

Anonymous said...

discussion over ... it's just not feasible ... but it was a nice idea

actively pursue the nature center option

Anonymous said...

I do not think this plan could work as it would be difficult or impossible for schools to separate their selection with the town library's selection.

hal samis said...

There are and will continue to be ideas floating around that will attempt to solve this serious problem but this piece meal approach of using band-aids as the
substitute for major surgery is not going to fix the problem or even offer much temporary relief.

There is simply no substitute(s) for an adequate substitute for the temporary Library. Anything else is going to have problems, of both anticipated and unanticipated origins. Nor do I think the Library really wants to consider alternatives which have the potential to become so beloved as to question whether they should be permanent -- i.e. a storefront in Hartsdale. This might call into question whether Greenburgh really needed a 46,000 foot project under one roof.

That this was the chosen route taken by Greenburgh is another reason to put the project on hiatus for a few months NOW and use the time to rethink how the Library should be built (including further examinging the major cost cutting considerations which will cause some redesign of the existing and to look further for viable relocation alternatives. Rsolving the overage will take time so time is available through no fault of mine. So I mean STOP and I mean NOW.

Even if it will cost more to recognize how this project has been rushed to the point where it finds itself; this should be viewed as an opportunity, a window opening, to consider whether or not we have to continue following the same game plan. Since the Referendum, the Library Team has carried the ball, the big, bad Feiner crew never had possession.

There is a serious overage in the project cost. Instead of futher amputating to make this go away, we need to reassess the entire project, perhaps to even consider a new design -- the rejected one story all-new construction ($14 million hard cost) which would not have cost more than the problematic choice of record.

"NOW" has other implications. Winter is not the best time to start construction, you can't pour concrete below freezing while I believe that the project still doesn't have approvals for the locations of the geothermal drilling.
And this is the opportunity for the Town to take the project out of the hands of the Library Team which alone caused the mess. When maintaining the "business as usual" model and supporting incompetence becomes the default principle -- and it clearly isn't working -- this, in individuals or even Councils or Boards, is called neurotic behavior; repeating behaviors which don't work.

The Library Team has had since November 2004 (now two years later) to make it work...and it still won't.

So let's walk. The about-to-open Ossining Library is a slightly larger all new building and it cost less than than even the original $19.8 million of our plan.
Taxpayer's equity is going down the rabbit hole while our Library Team is still trying to learn the basics of a game meant for ages 3 to 5. they are still forcing square pegs in round holes.

Anonymous said...


I also think the project has to be revisited. The problem is I dont trust the supervisor to supervise it. He has bullied the Council -- anyone can watch the Town Meeting regarding the Valhalla School District payments. Everyone now knows the VSD payments were illegal. But does he admit he made a mistake and ask for mercy. No. He must first learn how to build consensus, and respect the law.

Paul Feiner said...

I have not bullied the Town Council. This is a democracy. Every elected official - every member of the Town Council - are entitled to their views. They have a right to agree or disagree with me. I have a right to disagree or agree with them. Since January we have agreed on more than 98% of the votes that have been cast at Town Board meetings. I respectfully disagree with my colleagues on WESTHELP. I remember the meetings we had with the community prior to approving the WESTHELP partnership. We all made promises to the residents. I believe that once we give members of the community our word & approve a contract we have to keep our promise(unless directed by a court of law not to).

hal samis said...

Dear anonymous,

Is every comment to be an opportunity to dump on the Supervisor?

This topic is about the Library.
How would you go about revisiting the Library?

But since you brought it up...

Surely there is more to running Town government than the "powers" of the Town Supervisor. How does he effect this legendary "bullying" of the Town Council? Does he take them out to the woodshed? Is he a ventriloquist throwing his voice when the question is called? But how does he get the Town Council members to move their lips? Are the Town Council seats on the dais wired and he holds the power switch? Has he changed the Town laws regarding majority rule by the Town Board? If Feiner performs illegal acts, what makes the Town Council vote alongside him. Physically he is of small stature. I understand he goes to the gym but he looks to be no bigger or stronger than the other members of the Town Council, ok leave out Juettner.

I just don't understand how this bullying is actually undertaken and how, if it exists, it succeeds.

You say that "everyone" knows the VSD payments are illegal. So how does he get the Town Council to vote to continue these payments?

If he can't build consensus because of his failings, past and present, then the conclusion would be that the Town is instead being run by the Town Council because they have not just the minimum 3 votes, but 4.

So, we could just as easily tolerate Feiner's presence, for the remainder of his current term, as a figurehead and look to the Town Council to make everything right, even working backwards to front, or forward to back, righting all existing wrongs or just going forward and running the Town fault-free. They may be part-time employees but the heavy lifting is supposedly performed by Gil Kaminer.

But think about the result:
consider how dull these blogs will be when the trains are running on time.

And if that doesn't happen, who will then will be left holding the bag?

If it is absolutely necessary to put me in a labeled box because of my statements, then call me a Feiner supporter. I don't think that Feiner sleeps better for this knowledge. But, more often my position is on the side of logic in situations. And, to say that one man runs the Town over the objections of the lawful checks and balances which exist in our majority vote system, is the antithesis of logic.

When you casually throw out that Feiner bullys the four members of the Town Council, I go immediately to the Uncle Remus channel and think of the rabbit pleading "Whatever you do, don't throw me in that there briar patch".

You really need to explain what power the Supervisor has over the four members of the Town Council, two of whom (Sheehan and Juettner) were not the candidates he supported for the position in the last election (remember Dengler and Morgan). So there are two votes that would not appear to be in the Supervisor's pocket. Ms Barnes gets a "bye" because she is just a space filler with the right demographics, and that leaves Mr. Bass who constantly quarrels on camera with Feiner.

Thus, think Sheehan, Bass and Juettner:

3 votes to say no to further VSD payments (a differently composed Council of 4 (Weinberg instead of Sheehan) voted to establish them in the pre-cerebral era.

I think I saw as much as you but I guess I missed the off-stage bullying. What I do remember of the meeting was that the FIVE members of the Town Board voted the same way as a lot of voters present wanted. Either your beef is with the five or you have no argument. If you can excuse four of them, them you should extend the same consideration to all five.

But I'm always willing to listen to evidence of bullying adults. I suggest that we adjourn this topic to December comments as I doesn't belong under the Library topic.
I'll be on the lookout for your proof.

hal samis said...

OK I know it looks bad but I first saw Feiner's comment after I published mine. You can appreciate that it takes more more than a few moments to compose my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

1. I watched the Town Meeting and I saw the Supervisor baiting and bullying the Council.

2. When do we get to see the state comptrollers report.

3. This is related to the library. Integrity.

Anonymous said...

Maybe another site for a trailer could be on Hartswoods, near the environmental center.

Frankly, I think the town should sell the valuable 119 land and move the library to Harts. The money from the land sale could be used to help pay for libray and a new town hall.

Anonymous said...

Apologies first for logging in and publishing anonymously - the system rejected my login attempt and I'm more anxious to respond than chase the software
ZENGER said...
I favored the library project originally and still support it, but think Hal Samis has made several very telling points in his extensive commentary. He deserves some answers, and he also needs to look back at the history of the project before he climbs too deeply in the hole with Supervisor Feiner. (The ladder has been removed because it didn't meet OSHA standards and no one on the Town Council wants to go out of her/his way to resolve anything...)

New York State's Department of Education has published standards for library sizes based on the size of the community being served. Those standards suggest the Greenburgh Public library should have roughly 65,000 square feet. When Supervisor Feiner was approached by the Library Board's chairman Howard Jacobs, the Supervisor flatly rejected the notion of a 65,000 square foot library. The Supervisor suggested moving the library into the old Town Hall as the Town was moving into its new, and larger than necessary, building. (It is clearly larger than necessary or it would be a violation of the law to rent out space to the credit union - or has the Supervisor signed another affidavit which isn't exactly truthful?)
The old town hall was vacant because the Supervisor's plan to sell it for less than fair market value to Sunrise for development as a senior assisted living center had just been unmasked as Greenburgh's own entry into the Teapot Dome Scandal sweepstakes and the Supervisor needed a way to re-establish himself as a progressive, community-minded politico. Sadly, there was a conflict between saving money and doing maintenance - the responsible(?!?) parties opted for savings and the mold and mildew problem at the old town hall went from merely unabated to uninhabitable.
That left the library without the Supervisor's promised solution. (Whoever said the Library Board was good at acquiring and maintaining an interesting collection of books, DVD's, CD's but knows nothing about construction was right on target.)
Interestingly, people who have done construction on public building projects subject to the horrors of the Wickes Law will tell you rught away that renovating and adding to old buildings is more than twice as expensive as building an entirely new building. Hence, Ossining's intelligent decision to scrap their old library and build (for about $20 million) an entirely new building (even with Hal's least favorite architect.).
No one has ever successfully explained why the Supervisor, speaking on behalf of the Town Board, rejected the idea of a completely new building. Some folks have speculated that there was still the hope/intention/desire on the part of the Supervisor that he can still sell the property, if not to Sunrise, then to some other favored developer. But the property couldn't be sold if the new, built from the ground up library occupies the land.
How about it Town Board and Supervisor? If we stop right the madness now, go back to the drawing board and plan new construction rather than renovation, we can get a state-of-the-art library on the old Town Hall site, parking on the old Library site, and stay within the mandated budget.

hal samis said...

Dear Cable TV watcher,

You saw the Town Board meeting on TV. What does bullying look and sound like? Did the Supervisor knock someone's school books out of their hands. Did he make "your mother..." insults? Did he push or shove? Did he threaten anyone? Did he steal the Town Council's lunch money? What are YOU talking about?

And, what do you think about the Library situation?

Anonymous said...

Dear Zenger,

This sounds good. Also, does this avoid the temporary library problem, by:

1. Demolishing old town hall

2. Building new library.

3. Moving books in from old library

4. Demolishing old libary, redoing parking, maybe garage for bookmobile.

will be tight on parking, but maybe spots can be rented across street. less than renting retail space.

hal samis said...

Dear Zenger,

Is Zenger your name or alias?

At least you are discussing for the most part, the Library. However:

NYS Department of Education "suggests" that 65,000 square feet would be appropriate for unincorporated's 46,000 population or 1.4 feet per resident?
Under the same suggestion, NYC should have over 11 million square feet. So much for their suggestions.
The Library's hired expert, Lushington, only said one foot per resident. All of this is meaningless because how the square feet are utilized will completely render the concept invalid as a comparison for same-sized communities i.e. one library has a 200 seat auditorium, another a 500 seat auditorium; one community has a cybermobile garage, another does not; one has a cafe, another does not...

Perhaps in a world leading toward computer data bases as reference sources and books online, NYS Department of Education needs to revisit their concept, and perhaps they didn't consider that there are Villages with their own libraries and there is us, unincorporated; however using the total population of Greenburgh as the base would be inaccurate...if that is what NYS did.

Going back to the history books supports a different chain of events than your own recollection.

Either you are leaving something out of the equation or you are communicating it poorly. The impression you give is that Feiner wanted the Library to move into the old town hall (13,000 feet) from the existing Library (22,000 feet) which would be absurd. Perhaps you meant to say that he wanted the Library to use the old town hall in addition to the existing library building? However, either interpretation would seem to eliminate favoring Sunrise as the new owner.
In any case, you state that the Supervisor flatly rejected the idea of a 65,000 foot building as requested by Howard Jacobs. Given that the 46,000 Library is costing at least $19.8 million plus interest, should we not be grateful that taxpayers are not burdened by either the expense of 65,000 feet at $300 per foot or $19.5 million of hard cost (this compares to $13.7 million of hard cost under the planned $19.8 million project) plus the associated costs, including soft, which would then bring the project nearer to $30 million before interest. Perhaps, I should stop for a moment while the community applauds the Supervisor for exercising good judgement. And, just because Feiner rejected this proposal, this need not stop the Library from having held a referendum for $30 million. After all, wasn't the Supervisor opposed to the $19.8 million referendum which the Library held? So, perhaps you have some issues with the Supervisor that are hiding within your Library comments.

Indeed, the plan to sell the old library to Sunrise was "unmasked"?
This sounds like some unawarded Pulitzer Prize going begging? This "plan" was not a secret but when you use loaded words you create a false impression. Hey, you knew that already.

Wow, the old town hall was not being preserved for whatever reasons might occur. Of course, under the secret plans, the old town hall would be demolished to allow the Sunrise construction. So that is why when the Town purchased their new building, they did not get rid of the mold. Perhaps you would have also wanted the Town upon vacating the building to also repair the roof, the HVAC systems, redo the bathrooms to make them ADA compliant and install an elevator.
Nevertheless, the old town hall and its acreage was available to the Library as it has always been from the first, (if you recall, the Library Board agreed that the old town hall and land was unnecessary and the Library's architect was quoted as also saying it was unneeded) but despite this, the proposed sale to Sunrise was abandoned. Now these are facts but they don't really tell the story. It was the hope of the Town to sell the property, make the land tax yielding and being a feather in the Supervisor's cap for bringing an acceptable tenant to the neighborhood. The use would be preferred over, say, another car dealership. And the use would, in fact, bring little traffic with it. So, selling the property for less than the commercial use value was the background. Nevertheless, the Town would still have needed an appraisal and to go through an orderly process to conclude such an arrangement. Step one, of course, was to get the Library to say they didn't need the adjacent plot, hence it could be declared "surplus" and the sharp as a thrice used tack, Library Board was willing to comply and did. No thanks are due to Diana Juettner, Town Board library liaison in this early period.

Now to follow your jumping around to cover all the wrong steps you allege, the new Town Hall was and is clearly a little too large for the staff housed therein. In the real world, it is seldom possible to buy a "previously owned" (as car dealers say) building that was not designed as a town hall and fits the needs like a glove -- and is available at an attractive price. I agree, we did not buy a $20 million dollar building for $7 million; that is gross puffery but, we did buy the building that we needed at a fair price. So, there is perhaps some unused space, nowhere more apparent than corridors which are too wide (having previously accommodated secretarial desks at right angles to the wall) and there are a few small rooms which are under utilized and perhaps there are some meeting rooms that could be better utilized, etc. So what? And, if we had spent a lot more of renovation money and created an entirely different floor plan, we could have made the existing space more usable and more efficient. But we didn't.
Nevertheless, I, while tolerant of the purchase, did not support the renting of the space to the Credit Union, am still opposed, and am very sngry with the Town Council for supporting this idea with stupid statements like it brings in $23,000 a year. And of course, Steve Bass changed his mind from being against to for after receving a substantial Credit Union contribution. As for Sheehan, this was just the start of his dais domiciled disappointments to former supporters. Finally, had the Library team realized the extent of the problems that needed to be fixed to use the old town hall (again going inside would have provided some very good clues) they could have said, "Stop, don't rent that space at Town Hall, we may need it and thus it isn't surplus" but they didn't.

But returning to your version of history. You say "the Library was left without the Supervisor's promised solution". What would that be? The use of the old town hall? If so, untrue. It (more importantly the land underneath) is part of the project. Its condition? Known to everyone but the Library's construction manager who never went inside and Diana Juettner never corrected the Library's impression of the viability of the building? Perhaps I am missing something. Is there some other "promised solution" because being down in that hole without a ladder must be having an affect on my memory.

Now here's a most interesting observation by you. "No one has ever successfully explained why the Suoervisor, speaking on behalf of the Town Board, rejected the idea of a completly new building". Here's an idea, if Zenger creates a fictional event, don't expect the real world to participate in the plot outcome. When did the Supervisor, with or without the Town Board, reject a new building?
Why would he do so? What authority over the project, what control over the project did or does he have? The residents approved the $19.8 million, the project is run entirely and unfortunately by the the Library Board. The Library Board rejected a new building which would likely have cost less and been better designed and thus provide greater enjoyment.

So at the end of the day, Zenger, I find that you are a fraud. You have tried the old propoganda trick of mixing fact with fiction, of buying your way into credibility by quoting me and re-inventing what was proposed long ago. But your doomed attempt to hang the Supervisor by the output your faulty memory simply isn't sustainable when the troublesome details, like the truth, are added to your narrative.
We do agree that the proposed project should be abandoned in lieu of a new design. We do not agree, though, on your textual deviations from the truth.

Mr Samis - can you illuminate? said...

Still waiting for answers - who appointed Howard Jacobs? The Library Board is accountable to?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Samis,

Why are you allowed to speak on and on at town meetins, while others are limited to 5 minutes? Oh, foolish me, becuase you are the Supervisor's flunky. Oh lucky you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon at 10:18,

Mr. Feiner controls the meeting. If you are with him, the crowd must be polite and respectful. If you are against him, you can be heckled and are limited to 5 minutes.

Anonymous said...

The ohter freind of Feiner, Mr. Rosenberg, gets more than 5 minutes and gets to heckle.


hal samis said...

Dear shut-in anons

The rules of Public Hearings are set by open meetings laws established by the State and slightly tweaked by the consent of the entire Town Board. Public Hearings, such as tonight's hearing on the Town budget should not be confused with public comment on any topic which is limited to 5 minutes.

If you were closely watching, before the hearing started, the Town Board agreed to allow the Public to speak in 5 minute increments, if they remain on topic. To give everyone who wants to speak a chance to speak at least once, EVERYONE is given five minutes. In acknowledgement of the State laws which set no time limit, the Town Board lets speakers have additional rotational increments as needed. Again this is NYS law.

This has nothing to do with Feiner, the Town Council, the Town Attorney who acts as the parliamentarian and is seated on the dais. It is really sad that you (who I believe to be the same person) hide as anonymous which by itself is not as bad as being totally ignorant of the process. On the other hand by being anonymous, you can make your attack while no one will know what an ignorant little boy you are. If you won't identify yourself, at least take the trouble to learn the rules which might from time allow you some validation.

Anonymous said...

Any group meeting must depend to some extend on the civility of the group.

Those heckling would do well to remember they are not helping their cause.